A Fear Factor

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4. Stop attaching yourself to specific outcomes, and learn to discover opportunities. Your mind is your own worst enemy. The self-induced fear and anxiety we build around having to achieve a certain level of success stops us from actually progressing forward. No one can predict the future. The development of your business is an evolutionary process, so start by grounding yourself in your passion. Then set a small, achievable goal, test it out and grow your business according to the opportunities presented to you.

"I let my ambition for measurable successes get the best of me," recalls Jill Lublin, 41-year-old CEO of Promising Promotion in Novato, California. Lublin set out to create a publicity agency, but it wasn't growing as quickly as she would have liked. An expert suggested that instead of an agency, Lublin might make more money as a publicity consultant.

Lublin feared that starting over and changing her goal would decrease her income. She put her fear aside and took a hard look at what made her passionate about her work every day--and realized that she loved helping clients learn how to obtain great publicity. She decided to focus on changing the direction of her business. Her "new" publicity consulting business has now quadrupled in size.

5. Do what it takes. Every successful entrepreneur I have interviewed has said virtually the same thing: The true key to overcoming the fears you may have is to execute your idea continually.

One of the actions you can take instantly is to stop feeling bad about the small wins. After all, the jobs you don't want anyone to know about--those you feel are beneath your level of expertise--will actually fuel your long-term success.

Marie Edelstein, CEO of Designwest, an interior design firm in Woodland Hills, California, acknowledges that even though she was fearful about her financial situation, she never would have started if she had let fear make her wait for the money.

Every month for the first three years, she lived with the fear that she wouldn't succeed and would have to return to the work force. Often, it was a paralyzing notion, but she was determined to keep going. "You can't be too proud," explains Edelstein, 47. "Find work by pounding on doors and selling your unique benefit to everyone who will listen."

Edelstein took a part-time job at night so she could grow her business during the day. She took design jobs that paid the bills but were not necessarily glamorous. She kept her old, run-down car and parked it blocks away from client locations so they wouldn't have any idea she was just starting out. Her fortitude eventually paid off--Edelstein currently owns a design center with $1 million in sales and has more money than she has time.

6. Fear, and fear again. Define it, say it out loud, embrace it and ask others for help in solving the issues. Then use the energy this unique feeling creates to propel your business forward faster than you could ever have imagined.

You Shall Overcome

"If you are 'sorta interested,' do not waste your time. You must want your success more than anything. Simply wanting to do something is not enough. You must have relentless passion for what you do." -David Cardona, fashion designer in Los Angeles

"Don't give up. Success is around the corner. Experts say most businesses fail in the first two years because of a lack of planning. I say it is because people become fearful and simply stop. For the people who have been there for a year and 11 months, stay for the next 3 months. You will get your clients." -Marie Edelstein, CEO of Designwest, an interior design firm in Woodland Hills, California

"Get rid of fear of success by implementing and executing. Surround yourself with the most skilled people in your industry in order to help make your business a success--never feel threatened by their expertise, but learn from it and work as a team." -Nina Yang, founder of Double Edge Entertainment, a film production company in Sherman Oaks, California

"I let go of fear of rejection by doing my best. Once I get an interview, I buy myself an ice cream to celebrate. If I get the job, it's icing on the cake, and I celebrate again." -Cynthia Brian, author of Be the Star You Are! 99 Gifts to Living, Loving, Laughing and Learning to Make a Difference(Celestial Arts)

"Before going into sales meetings, I reinforce the feeling of confidence by forming my arms into the shape of a 'V' above my head and doing a victory dance. Literally reaching for the stars and signaling victory and shouting out 'Yes!' It seems silly, but it works." -Linda Hollander, author of Bags to Riches: Success Secretsby the Wealthy Bag Lady (Celestial Arts)

"I respond to fear by listening to my intuition. One thing I am doing to encourage this within my work space is creating a 'chill room' where one can relax, decompress, do some yoga, meditate, sit or just be. A quiet oasis where employees can find peace in the middle of a crazy day." -Cathleen Mitchell, founder of McRoberts Mitchell LLC, a New York City full-service communications firm


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This article was originally published in the June 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: A Fear Factor.

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